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KLA Leaders’ Defense Claims Prosecution Aims At Unfair Trial

KLA Leaders’ Defense Claims Prosecution Aims At Unfair Trial

Prosecutors’ suggestion that the trial against Kosovo Liberation Army’s leaders, Hashim Thaci, Kadri Veseli, Rexhep Selimi and Jakup Krasniqi could start in September, was strongly opposed by the defense claiming that it would lead to an unfair trial.

Prosecutor Alan Tieger said that investigations may continue with the appearance of a previously apprehensive witness who, according to him, now found the courage to provide information about important materials.

He said that Prosecution would be prepared to file the pre- trial brief and related materials by June or July, 2021, adding that they expect the trial to begin in September.

“Even if the date of the trial commencement changes, we will retain our position on filing two to three months before trial,” Tieger said.

Ben Emmerson, Veseli’s lead counsel said that the prosecution wanted to disadvantage the defense’s preparation “by ensuring that it has no more than three months to prepare the trial”

“It is a shocking submission,” Emmerson said empathizing the complexity of the case.

“In this case there are more than 100 murders on the indictment, each of which have to be individually investigated, forensically, with witnesses,” he added.

“The notion that the trial could begin three months after the prosecution has prepared pre- trial brief, is a joke. It is not just a joke though, it’s a revelation of an attempt by the prosecution at an unjust and unfair trial. Of course we will not allow that to occur. It is a basic minimal legal right to have fair trial,” Emmerson added.

David Hooper, Kosovo’s ex- President Hashim Thaci’s lawyer said that it will take more than eighteen months to begin investigation in this case, “that’s the reality of it”.

“Listening to Mr Tieger while sitting here in my room in London, I have to almost pinch myself, is he really saying this? Is he really saying this trial could take place in that way and in the same breath talk about fair trial? It is inconceivable,” Hooper said.

Former Kosovo’s President Hashim Thaci, former Parliament Speaker Kadri Veseli, former Parliament Speaker Jakup Krasniqi and former MP Rexhep Selimi are indicted for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Four of them were members of the KLA Headquarters holding high leading positions during the war.

The charges against them consist of six counts of crimes against humanity, namely: persecution, imprisonment, other inhumane acts, torture, murder and enforced disappearance of persons. And four counts of war crimes, namely: arbitrary detention, cruel treatment, torture and murder.

The prosecution describes the accused as members of a “joint criminal enterprise” sharing the common purpose to gain and exercise control over Kosovo.

All of them plead not guilty.

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